Vanessa Vallely OBE - She/Her
Author, Speaker, CEO, Founder of WeAreTheCity and WeAreTechWomen
Vanessa is one of the UK’s most well-networked women and has provided keynotes on a variety of career related topics for over 500 companies worldwide. She is also one of the UK’s most prominent figures in gender equality and often provides guidance and consultancy to both government and corporate organisations who are seeking to attract, develop and retain their female talent. Vanessa was awarded her OBE in June 2018 for her services to women and the economy.
At the height of her successful 25 year career in the financial services, Vanessa launched the award winning WeAreTheCity.com in 2008 as a vehicle to help women progress in their careers. WeAreTheCity.com now has over 120,000 members and provides resources/conferences/awards/jobs to women across the UK. Vanessa is also the founder of UK wide diversity forum Gender Networks. Gender Networks (formerly The Network of Networks) brings together diversity leaders from 85 cross sector firms to share best practice on a quarterly basis. She is also the author of the book “Heels of Steel: Surviving and Thriving in the Corporate World” which tracks her career and shares 13 chapters of tips to succeed in the workplace.
How has being Neurodivergent shaped the direction of your career?
I honestly don't think I would have achieved what I have with my ADHD. I was only diagnosed at 49! My diagnosis explains so much - getting into trouble in school, leaving jobs as I was getting bored, hyper focussing on a million ideas throughout my life (and making a success of a few!). Finally leaving corporate life to pursue a passion! Making things happen, seeing things in a different way, my ability to get a job done - I attribute a great deal of it to my ADHD. Don't get me wrong, it comes with its downsides, but I understand why I am the way I am now, and I am so much more kinder to myself because of that. I just wish I had known earlier!
What advice would you give to another Neurodivergent woman navigating their way through life?
I can only talk from the perspective of being diagnosed later in life, however since I found out last year, I have made it my business to understand not just ADHD, but all forms of neurodiversity. I have a support network of fellow ADHD'ers who I go to when I am struggling. We laugh together at the things we do, and above all we are kind to each other. I have always supported neurodivergency through my business at WeAreTheCity and I will continue to push for neurodivergent individuals and use my platform as a way of sharing stories and educating others.